I just read an interesting interview in the Sunday, March 26, edition of Leadership Newspapers.
The interview is with a former Reps member and highly respected political leader in Plateau State, Hon. Lumumba Dah Adeh and it has to do with the race for the leadership of the 10th National Assembly.
Adeh in the interview, dwelt more on who should be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives and was unambiguous about his choice of the current Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase.
The former governorship aspirant, made the point that since Wase is currently the deputy speaker and has expressed interest in vying for the position of Speaker, that naturally should settle the question of who succeeds Femi Gbajabiamila in the 10th Assembly.
He said this is because even as ranking has become an important factor in deciding leadership positions in the parliament, experience matters in leadership.
Adeh should know better as he was in the House of Representatives between 1999 to 2003 before leaving to serve as an aide to President Olusegun Obasanjo and has been active in politics.
These experiences put him in good position to evaluate the qualities and character of those currently in the race for speaker and to offer deep insights into what should guide the decision of Rep members in the soon to be inaugurated Assembly.
In the interview, Adeh suggested that the current Deputy Speaker be given right of first refusal explaining that where a leader’s performance is stellar, continuation becomes imperative.
One cannot help but agree with him. In organised institutions, leaders adjudged to have done well are returned for the purpose of sustaining the positive impacts they’ve made.
This serves to reward hard work, promote excellence as well as encourage those coming behind to be committed in the discharge of their duties. It goes without saying that preserving the heirachy also entrenches order, discipline and decorum in the selection process.
Ranking and experience complement each other in deciding the best in parliamentary leadership.
This was why when it was the turn of the North Central to produce the Senate President, David Mark was the automatic choice as he was not only returning to the Senate a third time in 2007, unlike most of his colleagues who were coming for either the first or second time but had experience in leadership being a former military governor and minister.
The only person that would have been qualified to slug it out with Mark was Senator Ibrahim Mantu, who had the added advantage of being the immediate past Deputy Senate President at that time but lost his bid to return to the Red Chamber.
When Mark returned to the Senate in 2011, having served as senate President in the previous Assembly, the seat was automatically returned to him as he qualified both in terms of rank and experience.
The House of Representatives unfortunately had since 1999 not had a come back Speaker as most either did not return to the House or in the case of one, found himself in a minority party at the time he did.
This time, the Speaker has won his election and is in the party with majority number of members but from all indications, is not likely to contest the seat.
Fortunately, his deputy, Ahmed Idris Wase, who is from the North Central zone and is one of the success stories of the current House of Representatives has also returned to the House as fifth termer.
This means that in terms of experience, he is not only unequalled but unrivalled and this is where the point made by Hon. Adeh about giving Wase the right of first refusal is helpful.
He says, “But now we have a Deputy Speaker who has not only been reelected but comes from a zone with the least shot at the speakership. So it’s an opportunity for the House of Representatives to set a precedence about the order of succession by giving Wase a right of first refusal such that he should be the natural successor to Gbajabiamila unless he says he does not want it.
“But now that he wants to take that responsibility to enhance quality leadership for the incoming administration, he should be given that chance because it will lessen the stress that comes with throwing it open to everyone.”
Apart from experience, Wase is a patriot who believes in the unity and development of Nigeria and has often made the point that only selfless service can take the country to its desired destination.
When he served as chairman of the House Committee on Federal Character, he ensured proper enforcement and implementation of the Federal Character Principle for fairness and equity in the sharing of posts and socio-economic infrastructures in the country and made sure that no zone or state was disadvantaged.
As deputy speaker, he supported his boss to preside over the House efficiently.
Not only that, Wase has been quite supportive of the Tinubu project from the onset.
At a book launch at the Transcorp Hilton in June last year, the President-elect, took out time to specifically mention Wase as one of those who supported him to emerge presidential candidate of the APC and commended his pairing with Gbajabiamila as presiding officers of the House describing it as a perfect example of how leaders and their deputies should cooperate.
He went ahead and delivered his constituency to the APC in all the elections showing his strength and capacity.
With that type of commitment, it is obvious that Wase will not waver in his bid to ensure the success of the Tinubu-led administration and the right of first refusal should not be denied him.